About Puppetry & Online Puppetry Courses

Puppetry is as old as civilization. Since our very beginnings when humankind gathered into tribes, we turned toward the inanimate world, manipulating wood, leather, sticks, rocks – whatever was at hand – to tell stories and express ideas. Today, we can successfully invest those objects with life, but only if we possess a strong foundation in puppet performance, design, and fabrication, along with a solid understanding of puppetry as a global cultural art form.

By immersing yourself in the Puppet Arts Online Graduate Certificate program, our staff of world-renowned instructors/puppeteers will provide all the knowledge and opportunities you need to bring your passion for puppetry to life – along with the skills you need to make your puppets actually come alive.

  • How do you make a puppet breathe and express an emotion so that your audience will go willingly into your world?
  • How do you use focus to get your audience to watch the puppet – not you?
  • What kinds of rods work best in shadow puppetry?
  • How can different materials be used to fabricate puppet heads?
  • What can we learn from history?
  • Why is criticism so valuable in performing arts and how do you learn to give and take feedback?

These are just a few questions we'll address in the UConn Puppet Arts Online Graduate Certificate program.


Program highlights include:

Online:  The Puppetry Certificate's four courses are taught asynchronously. Courses are delivered 100% online and students are not required to meet in person at a specific time for classroom instruction.

The use of the web interface, VoiceThread, to collaborate and share: This innovative platform is used extensively throughout the program, allowing students to upload images, documents, and videos, to which other students can add their voice, text, audio file, or video comments. You can even sketch in your ideas right over other students' drawings. As one student said, "VoiceThread allows you to be as close as possible to other students without actually being in the same space." This collaboration and sharing tool is the foundation that allows students to feel part of a strong, vibrant online community of their peers. Check it out! www.voicethread.com

The development of proficiency in material selection and fabrication: In DRAM 5607 – Advanced Materials Techniques, students have the opportunity to construct puppets using a variety of techniques, including sculpting, molding, casting, painting, and carving. You'll first watch video demonstrations of various techniques, including molding and casting, sculpting, and, flat patterning, which are carefully constructed by our Puppet Arts Technical Supervisor, Paul Spirito. Then you'll have the chance to practice and present your project for feedback on VoiceThread.

Gaining the gift of giving and receiving criticism: Critique is a vital part of growing as an artist. Constructive feedback, which is incorporated into every course, is especially important in the world of puppetry. Why? Because you are creating art that is meant to be viewed; every performance will be different – you have the opportunity to change each performance to improve your story and characters. Knowing how your peers see your work – an outside eye, for example, to tell you that your puppet is not looking where you think it is – is an essential part of knowing whether you are communicating your story and character clearly and convincingly. Such constructive criticism will also help prepare you when you present your final project live online for your peers and the public-at-large.

Delving into puppetry's past to influence its future: Throughout the program, you'll go back in time to examine the traditions of cultures from all over the world – how puppetry has been used as a global art form to teach lessons, share religious and political views, and tell stories. Gaining insights into the history of puppetry will help you understand the larger context of the field you’re working in and how traditions influence practices today. For example, the first half of DRAM 5613 – Advanced Shadow Theater – is centered on replication assignments. Students are introduced to puppetry traditions from different countries, then asked to create a performance that replicates the techniques from that country.